Hawthorn, or whitethorn, is associated with the festival of Beltane (although some sources list willow for Beltane) and is often associated with faeries.
Both Celts and Wiccans believe it is unlucky to bring hawthorn blossoms indoors. The only time one should break or cut hawthorn branches is on Beltane Eve.
Hawthorn is linked with the bridal link of the Goddess and uninhibited sexuality.
Places where hawthorn grows profusely often seem to mediate earth energies and evoke a connection to ancient times when people were more in tune with the land.
The symbol of the Chalice is also associated with the Hawthorn, being representative of divine secrets and everlasting life.
According to some Arthurian sources, Nimue trapped the besotted Merlin in a Hawthorn tree, where his voice may be heard to this very day, but perhaps the most famous Thorn tree was at Glastonbury (the site of Glastonbury Abbey), which is said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea and reputed to have blossomed only on Christmas Day. The original tree is believed to have been felled during the English Civil War…although Hawthorn Trees may still be found around the Abbey, which are said to be the cuttings of the ancient original.
The Hawthorn was a symbol of psychic protection due to its sharp thorns. It was also generally seen as a tree which brought good luck to the owner and prosperity to the land upon which it stood. It belongs to the trilogy of sacred Irish trees (the other two being the Oak and the Ash). Faery spirits were believed to dwell in Hawthorn hedges, which were planted as protective shrubs around fields, houses and churchyards. The Hawthorn was once thought to offer psychic protection to the traveler. The twigs would frequently be used as a curative for depression and the powdered seeds used to cure gallstones. Often used for walking sticks and to make fires.
The Hawthorn deity is Govanna (also known as Govannan or Goibnui). Equated to the Roman God Vulcan, Govanna was the Blacksmith God…custodian of celestial fire and higher powers of the mind. The weapons made by Govanna were deadly in their aim and his armor unfailing in its protection. It was said that those who drank from his sacred cup need never fear old age or infirmity.
Also associated with the Hawthorn is the Summer Flower Maiden named Olwen (also known as Olwyn). A daughter of the King of Giants, Ysbadadden Penkawr, her name means “the golden wheel.” She was also called the “Lady of the White Tracks” or “White Footprint” due to the legend that wherever she walked, the trefoil plants commonly called Shamrocks would spring from the ground. The animals associated with Hawthorn are the Bee and the Owl.
The Bee – Usually mentioned in connection with honey and mead (which was made from honey), the Bee is an industrious, single-minded creature when performing a task and fearless in defense of its home.
The Owl – These birds were most often associated with the Crone aspect of the Goddess. The word “cailleach” in Scottish-Gaelic means “owl.” Often a guide to and through the Underworld, the Owl is a creature of keen sight in darkness, as well as being a swift and silent hunter. The Owl aids in unmasking those who would deceive or take advantage. Being a symbol of wisdom and patience, Hawthorn individuals need to be guided by the Owl since they are often short on patience and tend to engage in hasty actions which can sabotage their best efforts.